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Dallas Region August Wilson Monologue Competition Grows to 20 Schools, 143 Student Competitors

High school students from 16 school districts deliver the 20th century African American experience in 2- to 3-minute monologues

High school students from across Texas compete in the national August Wilson Monologue Competition.

Semifinals January 12, 2019, 9 a.m.–4 p.m., SMU Meadows’ Greer Garson Theatre

Over 140 Texas high school students will gather at SMU Meadows’ Greer Garson Theatre on Saturday, January 12, to compete in the third annual Dallas Region semifinals of the national August Wilson Monologue Competition. Each student will present a two- to three-minute monologue from Wilson’s “Century Cycle,” a collection of 10 plays that embody the 20th century African American experience.

The students are vying for a chance to win an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City, where the top two contenders will compete with regional winners from 11 other cities in the national finals at the August Wilson Theatre on Broadway in May.

Wilson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright whose works include Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and the Broadway and movie blockbuster Fences, is known for works that champion the African American experience. The New York Times cites Wilson’s Century Cycle body of work as one that “... will be remembered as one of the great achievements of the American theater.”

The national competition was founded in 2007 by Kenny Leon and Todd Kreidler at True Colors Theatre Company in Atlanta. SMU Meadows Associate Professor of Theatre Benard Cummings, who served for several years as a judge in the New York competition, established the Dallas Region competition in 2016-17. The Dallas competition has grown so quickly that it is now held in two phases. The 2019 semifinals, in which 143 students from 20 schools will compete, will be held on January 12; the Dallas Region finals, in which 14 finalists will compete, will be held on February 16.

“In four short years, we’ve grown from a Dallas regional competition – along with the rest of the cities competing in the national finals representing their metro areas – and have morphed into a Texas-wide competition,” says Cummings. Sixteen Texas ISDs and one independent school are competing in the 2019 Dallas Region events this year: Arlington, Austin, Cedar Hill, Crowley, Dallas, Denton, DeSoto, Edgewood, Fort Bend, Grand Prairie, Houston, Lancaster, La Vega, Little Elm, Mansfield, Plano, Tyler, and Ovation Academy of Performing Arts in Prosper, Texas, an independent arts academy.

Another component of the annual Dallas Region competition is an essay contest, open to any student who attends any of the participating high schools. Students choose from four prompts based on themes found in Wilson’s plays, and write an 800- to 1,000-word essay. Up to three essay winners will receive $125 in cash each, and their essays will be reviewed by editors of the Samuel French Breaking Character Magazine for possible publication.

The Dallas Region event of the national August Wilson Monologue Competition is sponsored by SMU Meadows School of the Arts. National presenters are True Colors Theatre Company of Atlanta and Jujamcyn Theaters of New York. National sponsors are Delta and Aetna.

The Dallas Region semifinals will be held on Saturday, January 12 at SMU Meadows’ Greer Garson Theatre and are free and open to the public. Contestant check-in begins at 8:30 a.m.; doors open at 9 a.m.; and the competition will end at approximately 4 p.m.

Photography will not be allowed during the competition in order to give each competitor uninterrupted stage time.

Read more about the annual August Wilson Monologue Competition.

Read more about August Wilson.

Read more about SMU Meadows Division of Theatre and Associate Professor Benard Cummings.

2019 August Wilson Monologue Competition

Dallas Region Semifinals: January 12, 2019, Greer Garson Theatre

8:30 a.m. check-in

9 a.m. competition begins

4 p.m. (approx.) winners announced

Note: To help competitors deliver their best monologues, photography will not be allowed during the competition.

Dallas Region Finals: February 16, 2019 SMU Meadows’ Bob Hope Theatre

Winners of the Dallas Region finals will advance to the national finals in New York City.

National Finals: May 6, 2019, August Wilson Theater on Broadway in New York.

Cities represented include Atlanta, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Dallas, Greensboro, Los Angeles, New Haven, New York, Pittsburgh and Seattle.

Click here for information about SMU Meadows event parking.

Members of the press: Contact SMU Meadows Director of Communications Tory Winkelman, vwinkelm@smu.edu | 214-768-3785, for information about photography and more.

2019 Participating High Schools

20 schools, 16 ISDs:

Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy, Dallas ISD

Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Dallas ISD

Cedar Hill High School, Cedar Hill ISD

DeSoto High School, DeSoto ISD

Eastside Memorial High School, Austin ISD

Edgewood Fine Arts Academy, San Antonio, Edgewood ISD

Grand Prairie Fine Arts Academy, Grand Prairie ISD

High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Houston ISD

John Tyler High School, Tyler ISD

Lamar High School, Arlington ISD

La Vega High School, Waco, La Vega ISD

Lancaster High School, Lancaster ISD

Mansfield Timberview High School, Arlington, Mansfield ISD

North Crowley High School, Fort Worth, Crowley ISD

Ovation Academy of Performing Arts, Prosper

Plano East Senior High School, Plano ISD

Ray Braswell High School, Little Elm, Denton ISD

Skyline High School, Dallas ISD

Willowridge High School, Houston, Fort Bend ISD

Wilmer-Hutchins High School, Dallas ISD

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